Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster, Starman make their first close approach of Mars

An astronomer went on to give a detailed explanation of the close approach on social media.


Tesla’s upcoming supercar Tesla Roadster has automobile fans hooked ever since its launch in 2017. However, the four-wheeler is also currently serving as the payload for SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Rocket. It has recently made its first close approach of Mars. On 6 February 2018, the first Falcon Heavy was launched into space. It contained a unique payload, a Tesla Roadster that was being “driven” by a spacesuit-wearing mannequin called Starman. Last week, the official Twitter account of SpaceX posted an image of the vehicle with Starman at the steering wheel.

The caption said that the payload went within 0.05 astronomical units (au) or under 5 million miles of our neighbouring planet.

An astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics, Jonathan McDowell, gave a detailed explanation of the close approach on social media. In a series of tweets, the scientist stated that the Falcon/ Tesla passed 7.41 million km from Mars on 7 October. The distance, although 'moderately close', was still quite 'outside the Sun-Mars gravitational sphere of influence'.

The second stage of Falcon Heavy Rocket continues orbiting the Sun and recently it passed through the second aphelion of its orbit. It has crossed Mars’ orbit before also but then the spacecraft was not “at all close to Mars”, according to the scientist.

According to CNN, McDowell tracked the rocket using NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Horizons system. This system offers an accurate trajectory calculated from the Falcon 9’s initial orbit as it left the home planet. It will be in the year 2047 that the craft comes close to Earth. “It will pass about 5 million km from Earth in the year 2047,” Dowel told the portal.

Interested space lovers can even track the unique payload's journey via a dedicated website whereisroadster.com to track its current location.


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